P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 3, 1999
AUSTIN -- State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, rallied support for her bill that would strengthen DWI laws and expand the open container law during a news conference today at the Capitol.
Senate Bill 128 would mandate an automatic one-year license suspension for a second DWI conviction and makes all vehicle occupants subject to the open container law. The current open container law only applies to drivers and requires police to actually see the driver take a drink, and current DWI laws mandate at least a 180-day suspension on second conviction.
At the news conference -- also attended by the bill's House sponsor, State Representative Fred Hill, R-Richardson -- Nelson called on her fellow lawmakers to help put this legislation on the fast track because it is tied to federal transportation dollars under the latest federal highway bill. And she reminded them that the state is currently only meeting about 42 percent of its transportation needs.
If Texas fails to adopt these standards, about $40 million transportation dollars per year will begin to be diverted into safety programs in 2000. In 2002, that figure will increase to about $80 million.
"Transportation money is so scarce that we cannot afford to lose one penny that could be spent on badly needed road projects. It is imperative that we put this legislation high on our priority list this session," Nelson said. "We have the opportunity to do two things with this bill: save lives and build roads."